The Buzz: What We're Hearing from the Nation's Clubs
Welcome back to The Buzz, our regular check in with FOD customers, clubs and other properties around the country. This month we asked what club operators and managers are seeing as many clubs re-open and welcome members back to the gym. Here’s the low down.
Cautious – But Growing Enthusiasm: Members are Returning Quickly
Not all areas across the country are seeing the same results from Covid-19 precautions, but in the cities where gyms and clubs have carefully re-opened with appropriate protocols, members are returning quickly and each week those numbers are growing. Safety and sanitation protocols have helped reassure members, especially where teams are visible wiping down and sanitizing common use areas and work out equipment.
Instructors Get Smart with Small Classes, Other Options
Many classes have cut their maximum participant capacity by up to 50 percent for in-studio classes. Members are pre-selecting their in-studio station via app in some cases and all equipment for each class: mat, resistance bands and weights are pre-arranged in personal member stations throughout the studio. We’re hearing although instructors love the high energy of the larger class sizes, the opportunity to connect more individually with participants in smaller classes is refreshing and welcome. Some instructors have moved their classes outside to club parking lots and green spaces, and in many cases those sessions are proving incredibly popular – weather permitting.
Live + Digital – the New Landscape of Fitness Content
When we were all locked down these past few months, digital fitness content and virtual classes streamed to club members in their homes, really took an important step forward. While for many clubs on-demand content has been a staple ingredient of a rounded, in-depth class offering for years, other smaller clubs only just realized it’s potential. FitnessOnDemand’s new streaming product FLEX is just one tool on the market to help members working out in their basement, garage, bedroom, or wherever get access to the same levels of complexity, intensity and emerging fitness trends they experience with live classes on site at the gym. As members look for total convenience and seamless class and program content, that mix of digital and live action workout isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact, instructors are now more than ever encouraging out-of-class, on-demand content use for members to practice precise exercises and moves, stretch and wind down after class.
Get Timing Right: Pace It
Many clubs are also reporting a staggered membership return – with some members not quite ready to be reunited with their daily in-studio classes and workouts. That doesn’t mean they're divorced from the club communities though. Many operators have stepped up their member engagement, providing new ideas and tools for members to use at home, on the go with their phones or in the studio when they are ready to return. At FitnessOnDemand we’re doing our part to help clubs support their members wherever there are: things like downloadable fitness plans for members to use each month, ready to print club signage and curated digital content packages and suggestions for managers and their fitness teams to make sure members are getting the content and workout support they need as they transition back to full club use.
Experience: the New Differentiator
Across the board, as clubs re-open on their timelines and members acclimate to the new club normal, there is one thing that differentiates and guarantees a successful member return: quality of experience. Members are looking for many things as part of that: flexibility with member dues and fees during recent closures; ease of use whether it’s booking a class via app, online or over the phone; and above all, a sense of community – that after weeks of basement workouts, their club really welcomes and wants them back within its walls.
If you’re a club manager or operator looking for help with digital content and virtual classes as your members return, contact a member of our team today.
Todd Wiginton is a seasoned fitness professional with over a decade of experience in the industry, currently serving as the Director of Operations at Fitness On Demand. His career, marked by roles such as Personal Training Manager and Strength and Conditioning Coach, showcases his dedication to fostering personal and professional growth in ever-changing environments.